Cairo, Egypt – a Food Market

Cairo Egypt, December 11, 2002. Note the meat hanging in front of the Butcher Shop. A few blocks away from this market, a bloated carcass floated in the water of a drainage canal.

This photo is from my post Foreign Street Scenes.

The next photos were altered with filters in the program Topaz Studio.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
– Mark Twain –

Some of my friends claimed that they received a mail from the famous Prince of Nigeria and even I too got one from an Egyptian Pharaoh. Only I found out that this was all a part of the pyramid scheme.
– Author Unknown –

After discovering the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, the archaeologist opened it to find that the entire mummy was covered in chocolate. Later they named it the Pharaoh Roche.
– Author Unknown –

Deep within the Great Pyramid, Pharaoh Khufu gazed at the walls of what would eventually be his burial chamber, asking himself what he had been thinking in entrusting its adornment to the teenaged Prince and Princess, but comforting himself with the certainty that the younger generation would soon tire of these annoying “emoticons” and return to the rich thirty-character Egyptian alphabet.
– G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA –
(see my post Bulwer-Lytton Quotations for other suggested opening sentences for the worst possible novel that was never written.

Rounding out this post about Egypt:  this is from my February post This and That:

Picture Perfect Flowers – Anticipation

Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.
– A. A. Milne –

In a month or two, my flower beds should look like this…

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.
– W. E. Johns –

Before that, though, there will be lots of non-gardening weather…

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
– John Ruskin –

which gives me sufficient time to put the photo through my filter factory.

A Digital Marble
Topaz Studio Fantasy Filter
Topaz Studio Impasto Filter
Topaz Studio Quad Tone filter

A Spanish magician prepares the audience for his final trick…
He yells “UNO!”
The crowd falls silent in anticipation.
“DOS!”
Everyone’s eyes are wide, laser focused on the performer.
Then, the magician vanishes… without a tres.
– Author Unknown –

What are you looking forward to in the next few months?

Northern Leopard Frog

The Amphibian Notes
Name: Northern Leopard Frog
Species: Lithobates pipiens
Native to :  Canada and the United States. Only isolated populations in the southern grass and wetlands of Alberta. The grandchildren used to find them in the creek and the golf course water hazards near where our cabin was. Hard to say where the frogs ended up after the area was flooded out in 2013.
Date Seen: September 2009
Location: South Eastern Alberta near the Bow River

Notes: One of the largest frog species found in Alberta, they vary in size between 2 and 5 in (5-13 cm); green or brown in colour with numerous dark spots. Fairly easily caught by young boys – who release them a short time later.

Photos: Northern Leopard Frog in a bucket of water with photo filters applied in the program Topaz Studio:

After the flood:

Treed – Man Vs Moose

Piecing together the story

What I saw: The neighbour up the road hired a Tree Trimmer/Remover for a job that was well beyond the capabilities of the crew at the ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’.  The work was such that a man, with a chain saw, climbed a tall tree and then methodically removed branches. When that was done, he would then be able to take down a ‘skinny’ tree that wouldn’t damage the surrounding shrubbery nearly as much.

He had removed most of the branches when I walked by on the road. I stopped to watch, partly because it is quite interesting to see a man confidently using a chainsaw when he is about 25 feet up in the air… and partly because one of the Munching Moose was calmly eating the branches that the man had dropped to the ground.

In turn, the man was taking pictures of the Moose on his cell phone. (This is when I wished I carried a cell phone). I headed for home as fast as my little legs could carry me. Fifteen minutes later I was back at the scene with my camera, but by then the moose was gone and the man was back at work. I took a photo of the man in the tree.

What I was told: The next day I returned to the scene. The owner of the property was out front surveying some of the other work the tree trimmer had done. I told him that I had seen the ‘Treed’ man. The owner said the moose delayed the man’s descent for a while. The man kept throwing branches down towards the moose, hoping to scare it away. The moose just kept on eating. Eventually the man got low enough down the tree and the chain saw got noisy/menacing enough that the moose moved on.

From the perspective of a moose: As I was walking home, I spotted the moose in the aspen forest across the road from our place (about 150 meters (500 feet) from me.) There were at least four of them, possibly five.

I can just imagine the story that one of them told about the adventure the day before: “I tell you, it was raining branches yesterday! They just kept falling from the sky. I ate until I could hardly move!”

Photos of this group of Munching Moose. I’m making an assumption that the four moose we usually see (either in pairs or as a group of four) are always the same moose. One is a female with last springs calf. The other two are perhaps her calves from the previous year/years.

The newcomer to this group is a bull moose with antlers. It might be a younger male, since older males usually lose their antlers by now.

Bull moose on the left
Bull moose with antlers
A moose has poor eyesight but their hearing and sense of smell are excellent.
Moose are not normally aggressive unless they are harassed or it is mating season or mothers with young calves are protecting their young.

That’s it from the land of Munching Moose for this week!

 

Cold is a Relative Thing and Making Things Up (Video)

Winter weather in Alberta is an exercise in relativity. When the temperature  first dips to just below freezing (-1C or 30F), it feels cold – but it feels warm compared to the day when it gets down to -10C (-14F). Inevitably, the really COLD weather will arrive – which it did with a vengeance just a few days ago.

-27C is -16F; -34C is -29F

Anything below -20C is really cold.  -20C, -27C,  -34C. No more relativity – it is all just really, really cold. The forecast says it will warm up by this week-end, but do they really mean that? Watch the video below:

I took some photos when it was a balmy -10C.

Frost Covered Trees
Frost covered trees with a Topaz Studio filter called oil.
Macro photo of frost crystals.
Frost crystals with a Topaz Studio sharp filter.

If you are a regular reader, you will wonder why I’m still in Alberta and not soaking up the sun in Arizona. The answer to that is – some times one door closes but another ten open. On the closed door side, the ‘Rona virus and various levels of government made it much less appealing to travel – (though not impossible). On the open door side – at our Alberta house there is a ‘Never Ending Reno’ list, enough craft and hobby supplies to last a lifetime, family to visit as soon as this lock down is lifted and the always enticing prospect of an early start to gardening season! Yah!

Is it still winter where you are? What is the coldest temperature you saw this year? How accurate are the weather reports where you live?

Fall Colours – Cotoneaster

Two more plants that grow prolifically in our woods are the Cotoneaster (it is such a temptation to call it a ‘Cotton Easter’ bush…) and the wild raspberry. Both arrived in our woods from bird droppings.

Red Cotoneaster leaves, green wild raspberry leaves
Topaz Studio Line ink filter
Topaz Studio Telbarion014 filter

Plant Profile
Common Name: Cotoneasters (pronounced ‘co_TONY-aster’)
Scientific Name: Cotoneaster; family Rosaceae
Growth: Full sun to partial shade; very adaptable to both dry and moist locations; hardy to zone 2A
Blooms: Clusters of shell pink flowers along the branches in mid spring

Fall Colours – Dogwood

Red Twig Dogwood
Topaz Studio Impasto filter
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Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
-Albert Camus –

Plant Profile
Common Name: Red Osier or Red Twig Dogwood
Scientific Name: Cornus spp.

Dogwood, which can be native to Alberta parkland forest understories, is a relatively easy bush to grow. It has interesting flowers in the spring, nice berries in the summer, great fall colour, and beautiful bright stems for winter colour.

We have several on our property. They arrived via bird droppings. I think that is quite amazing, actually. Who knows how far away the bird was when it ate some seeds (berries) from a dogwood. The seeds had to have been at just the right stage of ripeness. Then the bird flew some distance and pooped on a piece of ground that was a receptive host. The dogwood seed had to germinate, put down roots, and out muscle the plants around it in order to survive.

This year the dogwood got big enough for me to see it. It is about 3 feet (1 meter) high. It is not too far from a path I walk regularly – not hard to miss when the leaves turned bright red.

In contrast, there is a red-berried elder on our property that grew to be four times that size before I finally discovered it. It was delivered by bird poop too, but not in a location that it can easily be seen.

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.
-Author Unknown –

Fall Colours – Virginia Creeper

Virginia Creeper
Topaz Studio Background Painter filter
Topaz Studio Cartoon filter

Plant Profile
Common Name: Virginia Creeper
Scientific Name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia

This vine is a prolific deciduous climber, reaching heights of 20–30 m (70–100 ft) in the wild. It climbs smooth surfaces using small forked tendrils tipped with tiny strongly adhesive pads 5 mm (3⁄16 in) in size.

We have Virginia Creeper growing, under strict supervision, in two locations. The one in the photo is in a large planter box. It has been growing there for 20 years or so. I shear it back a few times each year so that it doesn’t take off across the patio and out onto the driveway. If left to do what it does best, it would engulf a small car in just one growing season.

The other location is next to a quonset steel building where it (and six of its siblings) are supposed to climb up the side of the building. To date, the strong adhesive pads are not having much luck climbing the shiny metal. Maybe next year.

Fall at my Alberta Home – Aspen

Trembling Aspen Leaves
Topaz Studio Kaleidoscope filter
Topaz Studio Quad tone filter

Plant Profile
Common Name: Trembling (Quaking) Aspen
Scientific Name: Populus tremuloides

Trembling (aka Quaking) Aspen is the most widely distributed tree in North America, and is known for the distinctive rustling sound its leaves make in the breeze. It is also the preferred wood for that most Canadian of animals – the beaver. These industrious creatures use it as a food source and as the main structural wood in their dams and houses.

Trembling Aspen reproduces by root propagation. This creates clones of the original tree, which can produce pure stands covering a large area. The clones are considered as one individual so these colonies are some of the largest and oldest living organisms on the planet.
– Canadian Woodworking and Home Improvement –

We have a four or five stands of these trees on our property. Each stand has dozens and dozens of trees of various ages. This was an exceptionally good growing year for them because we did not have many aspen leaf roller caterpillars. Instead, there are dark spots on the leaves – perhaps a fungus of some kind. Aspen are susceptible to many insects and diseases, which is why mother nature gave them the ability to grow up fast to compensate for the fact they die relatively young.

Trembling Aspen – fighting for domination with the spruce trees
Topaz Studio Cartoon natural filter
Topaz Studio Expressionism filter
Trembling Aspen stand – no spruce trees to compete against
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